Arena wars: How does the Barclays Center stack up against Madison Square Garden?
Don’t underestimate the power of brown, especially on arenas. Both Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center boast a shade of the color on their exterior, one weathered and rusted to look older than its true age, the other dressed in lights to look a touch younger, just one tie that binds New York City’s two big-name arenas.
One major difference, though? Barclays is hosting playoff basketball for the second straight year thanks to the Brooklyn Nets. New York's Garden? The Knicks missed out on the postseason, but the NHL’s Rangers have home playoff dates on the schedule.
The rivalry between the Nets and Knicks extends beyond the hardwood to the two teams’ venues. The arenas -- about six miles away from one another -- both host the NBA and when the Islanders move into Barclays in 2015 will also both have ties to the NHL. That isn’t all. They also fight for hosting concerts -- with Barclays winning in 2013.
Barclays Center was the top-grossing North American arena for concerts and family shows in 2013, but remember that Madison Square Garden was putting the finishing touches on a $1 billion-plus renovation that year, making 2014 the first time the two will go head-to-head for an entire year on equal ground.
Let’s take a look at how the two venues stack up against each other:
MSG: The Garden opened at its current location -- the third in the venue’s history -- in 1968 and finished the above-mentioned renovation in 2013, even as a 10-year lease has city officials saying MSG will need to soon leave to make room for a new Penn Station in its place.
Barclays: At a cost of roughly $1 billion, Barclays opened in September 2012. It isn’t going anywhere.
Capacity for basketball:
This sure depends on your view of New York City. Barclays resides in Brooklyn, not exactly the center of the universe, although any local Nets lover will gladly tell you that their location qualifies as the epicenter of culture and life.
MSG: Sitting atop Penn Station, nearly every form of transportation possible in Manhattan leads to the venue’s basement station.
Barclays: Eleven trains flow into the adjoining Atlantic Avenue station, making Barclays easily accessible.
MSG: With an average of $149 for a Knicks’ ticket, the high end at $372 and the low at $110, the Garden has some of the most expensive seats in the association.
Barclays: There’s a slightly less inflated cost in Brooklyn, but a $132 average prices with a high end of $284 and cheap seats at $71, the Nets still have some pricey options. The get-in on StubHub for the playoffs hovers around $100, not yet a high-demand market, but, as a Nets’ fan would argue, at least they have a playoff ticket to purchase.
While Madison Square Garden has been ranked as the most expensive place to take in a NBA game and the Nets pull in at seventh, it isn’t all about ticket prices. For concessions, both venues rank high on the price lists for NBA standards, but fall in comparable ranges with each other.
MSG: The 2013 renovation created more fan amenities, such as fresh dining options, premium seating, new restrooms a new concourse and two rebuilt seating bowls. A new pedestrian walkway over the action offers a touch of intrigue.
Barclays: Brand-new and big, the arena architects boast that seats sit closer to the floor than in the Garden, saying the 20th row in Barclays is equivalent to the 40th in MSG. But to get close you have to build steep and it doesn’t get much more dramatic than a 36-degree pitch in the upper bowl at Barclays. Seats may pull close, but they rise quite high.
Signature architectural element:
MSG: At one time the largest cable-stayed roof around, the circular roof clad in brown panels gives the Garden a truly distinct architectural look with an engineering element that frees the space of columns to support the roof’s load while creating an interior environment unlike other arenas.
Barclays: Does rust count? It must. The weathered steel of the flowing exterior provides an aesthetic far different than a typical arena. Add in the green roof coming to the arena and the exterior of Barclays provides a signature look far outweighing anything within the venue.Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.